‘Shoplifters’ wins Palme d’Or, grand prize to Spike Lee

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Director Hirokazu Kore-eda holds the Palme d’Or for the film ‘Shoplifters’ following the awards ceremony at the 71st international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 19. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
Director Hirokazu Kore-eda holds the Palme d’Or for the film ‘Shoplifters’ following the awards ceremony at the 71st international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 19. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Cannes, France (AP) – A tumultuous Cannes Film Festival concluded last weekend with the Palme d’Or awarded to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” a tender portrait of a poor, impoverished family.

At the closing ceremony for the 71st edition of the French Riviera extravaganza, the Cate Blanchett-led jury selected one of the festival’s most acclaimed entries, one hailed as a modest masterpiece from a veteran filmmaker renowned for his delicate touch. “Shoplifters” is about a small-time thief who takes a young girl home to his family; after seeing scars from abuse, they decide to keep her and raise her as their own.

While many speculated that the Cate Blanchett-led jury might award only the second Palme d’Or to a film directed by a woman, the most likely contender — Lebanese director Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum” — was instead given Cannes’ jury prize. The film drew a rousing standing ovation at its premiere but less enthusiastic critic reviews for its tale of a 12-year-old boy living in poverty who sues his parents for bringing him into such a cruel world.

Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlans­man,” the highest profile American film in competition at Cannes, was awarded the grand prize. The film ignited the festival with its true tale of a black police detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Lee connected the film to modern day with real footage from last year’s violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I take this on the behalf of the People’s Republic of Brooklyn, New York,” said Lee, accepting his award.

Best actress went to Samal Yeslyamova for Kazakh writer-director Sergey Dvortsevoy’s “Ayka.” Taking best actor was Marcello Fonte for Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” an award presented by fellow Italian actor Roberto Benigni.

The prize for best screenplay was split between Italian writer-director Alice Rohrwacher’s time-warped fable about a poor farm boy in rural Italy “Happy as Lazzaro” and Nader Saeivar and Jafar Panahi’s script for “Three Faces.”

A “Palme d’Or Speciale,” a special first-time award, was given to 87-year-old French filmmaking legend Jean-Luc Godard for “continually striving to define and refine what cinema can be,” said Blanchett.